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Wilmington University Announces Inaugural Spirit Stride Virtual 5K

The text reads: WilmU Spirit Stride Virtual 5K with a wildcat claw

This year marks Wilmington University’s first Spirit Stride Virtual 5K.

For one week, beginning April 19 and continuing through April 25, the public can run, walk or bike to support the Wilmington University Scholarship Fund. An impressive array of prizes is on tap. Participants will enter a drawing for an Apple Watch, gift cards to Amazon and the Delaware Running Company, and Apple AirPods. Registration is free.

Wilmington University alumni and other corporate partners believe in giving back. They know that their donations serve promising students like City of Dover Police Officer Anthony Smith, who will soon earn his M.S. in Administration of Justice with a concentration in Homeland Security. “I applied for the Shaw Scholarship for my master’s degree because it spoke directly to me as a veteran: I spent eight years in the military in active duty as an Army Airborne Ranger and in the Reserves,” he says.

“When I learned I got the Shaw Scholarship, it was like fireworks going off. I could see my finish line. My scholarships eliminated the financial fear that held me back for years. All I had to do was stay the course and do the work. I’ve had the opportunity to dream with my eyes open because I was awarded scholarships at Wilmington University. Now, I’m happy to give back and help others to take the same steps by fully supporting and participating in the Spirit Stride Virtual 5K.”

5k participants smiling and waving

Participants from a 2015 WilmU 5K

Nina Thomas earned a bachelor’s degree in 2017 and is now a successful entrepreneur who owns and operates United and Free Photography, which specializes in weddings, engagements and events. “Wilmington University transformed my life,” she says.

“Thanks to my scholarships, WilmU gave me the desire to keep making forward progress. I worked hard and as I did, I saw that I could go beyond my own expectations, reach my goals, and aspire to meet higher goals I set for myself. I’ve had the opportunity to meet great people and gain solid connections that have become a network of both WilmU alumni and others who have helped my work and influenced my business vision for the better. It’s incredible to still have these pivotal connections today, many of whom have become valued friends, and I’m grateful to Wilmington University for the scholarships that made my education possible.”

Many WilmU students have served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, while others have suffered severe hardships. Regional businesses are supporting those deserving students by sponsoring the virtual 5K.

Patrick Fisher, director of business development for U.S. Hydrations, is a 1974 WilmU alumnus who has donated to the University’s scholarship fund for 18 years. “I see sponsorship of the Spirit Stride Virtual 5K as another way to say thank you to Wilmington University for the college education that has enriched the lives of my entire family and made my success possible,” he says.

CBM Insurance logoCBM/IFS Insurance President Brandon Baffone and his wife Renee Baffone are WilmU alums. A platinum sponsor for the Spirit Stride Virtual 5K, their company cultivated its corporate relationship with WilmU in 2008. Rick LaPenta, the executive vice president of CBM/IFS, has also nurtured a longtime professional relationship with the University. “We understand how much scholarships are needed, and we feel that sponsoring the Spirit Stride Virtual 5K is a great way to make more scholarships available,” he says, adding that the company offers opportunities to WilmU interns and graduates.

According to Michael Stagnitta, the Mid-Atlantic region marketing director for NFP, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, “The more we’ve learned about WilmU over the past five years, the more we’ve grown to appreciate its mission. Supporting the Spirit Stride Virtual 5K is simply the right thing to do.”

Update: See a summary of the event here.

The Spirit Stride Virtual 5K is co-hosted by the Wilmington University Alumni Relations and Development departments. To register individually or with a team, or donate without participating, visit All proceeds benefit the Wilmington University Scholarship Fund.

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